Trump trial full coverage: Michael Cohen testifies in hush money case, recounts arranging deal to silence Stormy Daniels

Donald Trump's former lawyer and "fixer" — and the prosecution’s key witness — is on the witness stand today.

Michael Cohen.
Michael Cohen leaves his apartment building on his way to testify at former President Donald Trump's hush money trial in Manhattan Monday. (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

Donald Trump’s hush money trial resumed Monday in Manhattan criminal court, where Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and so-called fixer, testified for several hours under direct questioning by the prosecution about his role in facilitating the $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to conceal the sexual affair she says she had with the former president.

Daniels testified for more than six hours last week about the hush money deal she struck before the 2016 election to stay silent about her alleged tryst with Trump a decade earlier.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison at the end of 2018 for various crimes, including tax evasion, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations related to the payment he made to Daniels.

Trump is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to conceal the hush money payment to Daniels.

Below, get live updates on the case, including direct quotes and other details from media reports.

  • Court breaks for the day

    Michael Cohen will return to the stand Tuesday morning, when prosecutors are expected to finish direct questioning of their key witness.

  • Cohen testified Weisselberg said 'we’ll get you a check out' for repayment

    Cohen testified that former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg said “let's do it” when he asked about getting reimbursed for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels after the new year, according to CNN.

    Cohen confirmed that he provided the First Republic Bank statement that Weisselberg requested, showing the $130,000 transfer.

    The jury was shown a copy of the bank statement with Weisselberg's handwritten notes tallying what Trump owed Cohen based on their previous discussions. Cohen testified he was present when Weisselberg wrote the notes.

    Cohen says Weisselberg told him the reimbursements would start in February.

    “What he stated to me is, ‘Each month just send an invoice to us. And just mark down for legal services rendered pursuant to the agreement, and we’ll get you a check out,‘ ’” Cohen testified, adding that Weisselberg encouraged him to “just be patient” as Trump transitioned to Washington, D.C.

  • Trump reads from stack of articles criticizing hush money case

    On his way out of the courtroom after a long day of testimony, Trump addressed reporters, appearing to read from a stack of printouts of favorable opinion articles criticizing the hush money case against him.

    "There's no crime here," Trump said. "This is four weeks of keeping me from campaigning."

  • Cohen says he was 'beyond angry' that Trump cut his bonus

    Cohen said that he was “beyond angry” that Trump cut his bonus by two-thirds in 2016 after Cohen fronted “$130,000 on his behalf to protect him.”

    He testified that he learned of his bonus cut after he opened an annual Christmas card given by Trump to his staff.

    “Right after opening it, I actually had to take a double take,” Cohen said, according to CNN.

    “I didn’t expect more, but I certainly didn’t expect less,” the New York Times added.

    Cohen testified that he went to Trump CFO Alan Weisselberg's office “and in some colorful language expressed to him how truly pissed off and angry I really was.”

    According to reporters in the room, Trump laughed to himself and nodded when Cohen described his anger.

  • Cohen admits he was disappointed not to be considered for White House chief of staff

    Cohen testified that he left the Trump Organization after Trump won the 2016 election “because my service was no longer necessary” and that he turned down the role of assistant general counsel in the White House.

    Asked if he was disappointed that the chief of staff position wasn't offered to him, Cohen insisted he didn’t want the job but admitted he was disappointed that he wasn't considered.

    “I would have liked to have been considered,” Cohen said, adding: “It was more about my ego than anything.”

    📸 Big picture: Earlier in the trial, the jury heard testimony from Keith Davidson, Stormy Daniels's lawyer, who said that Cohen was so despondent about the snub that Davidson “thought he was going to kill himself.” Cohen's own testimony here was much less dramatic, which may help him during cross-examination.

  • Cohen says he coordinated Trump's response to the Karen McDougal story with Hope Hicks and David Pecker

    Before the break, Cohen testified that he spoke with David Pecker, then the publisher of the National Enquirer, and Hope Hicks, then the Trump campaign's spokeswoman, to coordinate Trump's response to a Wall Street Journal story about Karen McDougal's hush money agreement with Enquirer publisher American Media.

    Here is a link to the article, which was published on Nov. 4, 2016, just days before the election, with the headline:

    National Enquirer Shielded Donald Trump From Playboy Model’s Affair Allegation

    📸 Big picture: Both Hicks and Pecker testified earlier in the trial. Prosecutors appear to be using Cohen's testimony — as well as phone records — to corroborate their accounts.

  • Court is back in session

    Court has resumed for today's final stretch with Cohen back on the witness stand.

  • Court takes an afternoon break

    The court is taking an afternoon break. Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger told Judge Merchan that her direct questioning of Michael Cohen will continue into tomorrow.

  • 'This matter is now completely under control and locked down'

    — Michael Cohen to Trump on Oct. 28, 2016, after Stormy Daniels signed the nondisclosure agreement following Cohen's $130,000 payment to Daniels for her silence, according to Cohen's testimony

  • Cohen says he provided false documentation to open shell company

    Michael Cohen testified that the documentation he gave to the bank to set up Essential Consultants LLC was false in order “to hide the intent of the reason for opening Essential Consultants, which is to pay for a nondisclosure agreement,” CNN reported.

    Cohen said he believed the bank “probably would not” have opened the account if he had been truthful, which corroborates former banker Gary Farro's April testimony.

    “If [the client] told me it was a shell corporation, it would not have been opened,” Farro said when he was on the witness stand. “It would give me pause, very frankly.”

  • Cohen says he spoke twice with Trump on the day of the Stormy Daniels hush money payment to get his sign-off

    Cohen testified that on the morning of Oct. 26, 2016 — the day he made the wire transfer of $130,000 from his newly established home equity line bank account to Stormy Daniels — he spoke with Trump twice to get his sign-off.

    "I wanted to ensure that once again he approved what I was doing because I require approval from him on all of this," Cohen told the court, per CNN.

    Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked whether Cohen would have gone forward with the payment without Trump's approval.

    "No. Everything required Mr. Trump's sign-off," Cohen replied, adding: "On top of that, I wanted the money back."

  • Cohen asked David Pecker if he would make payment to Stormy Daniels

    Cohen testified that he asked David Pecker in 2016 if he would make the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels and was told "not a chance."

  • Cohen says Trump instructed him to 'figure this whole thing out'

    Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger as former President Donald Trump sits with his eyes closed.
    Michael Cohen testifies at Trump's hush money trial on Monday in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

    Cohen testified that during his efforts to delay the $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels until after the 2016 election, Trump told him that friends of his advised him to just pay her — and instructed Cohen to take care of it.

    "There’s no reason to keep this thing out there, so do it," Cohen recalled Trump telling him. "Just do it. Meet up with [Trump Organization chief financial officer] Allen Weisselberg and figure this whole thing out."

    📸 Big picture: The prosecution is trying to show that Trump not only knew about the payment Cohen made to Daniels — he orchestrated it.

  • Melania texted Cohen a day after Cohen found out Daniels was going to the Daily Mail

    Cohen testified that Melania Trump texted him on Oct. 18, 2016, one day after Cohen tried calling Trump to inform him that Stormy Daniels was planning to tell her story to the Daily Mail. He said he got Trump's voicemail, so he left a message, CNN reported.

    Cohen said that the next morning, he received a text message from Trump's wife, Melania, that read:

    "Good morning Michael. Can you pls call DT on his cell. Thanks."

    "Of course," Cohen reportedly texted back less than a minute later.

    Cohen said that he ended up speaking to Trump.

  • Cohen used Yom Kippur to delay paying Stormy Daniels

    After a lunch break, Michael Cohen resumed his testimony, describing his efforts to delay paying hush money to Stormy Daniels.

    Cohen testified that he used the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur as an excuse to delay paying Daniels.

    The jury was shown an email exchange between Cohen and Keith Davidson, an attorney who represented Daniels. Davidson wanted to speak to Cohen on Yom Kippur about the delay. Cohen replied that he could not because of the holiday.

    Earlier in his testimony, Cohen said that Trump told him: "I want you to just push it out as long as you can just get past the election. Because if I win it will have no relevance because I'm president. And if I lose, I don't even care."

  • Court is back from lunch break

    Judge Juan Merchan has taken his seat on the bench, and Michael Cohen is back on the witness stand.

  • Court breaks for lunch

    The trial will reconvene at 2 p.m. ET.

  • Cohen says that Trump was not concerned about Melania: 'This was all about the campaign'

    Under direct questioning from prosecutors, Cohen testified that when he raised the issue of Melania Trump with Donald Trump after learning that Stormy Daniels was shopping the story of her alleged sexual affair with him, Trump was unconcerned about his wife.

    "How long do you think I'll be on the market for? Not long," Cohen recalled Trump saying.

    "He wasn’t thinking about Melania," Cohen added. "This was all about the campaign."

    📸 Big picture: Trump's defense attorneys have argued that he entered into hush money deals with Daniels and Karen McDougal because he wanted to protect his family and had nothing to do with his presidential campaign. Cohen's testimony contradicts that defense.

  • Cohen said he believed Daniels's story would have 'catastrophic' impact on Trump's 2016 campaign

    Cohen testified that he thought Stormy Daniels's story of her alleged affair with Trump could be potentially "catastrophic" for Trump's chances at the White House.

    "This is horrible for the campaign," he said, describing his thinking at the time.

    After learning of Daniels's story, Cohen said, he went to Trump's office and "told him that one of the things that we need to do is obviously take care of it." Cohen said that Trump replied, "Absolutely. Do it, take care of it."

  • Michael Cohen's testimony, as seen through a courtroom sketch

    A courtroom sketch of Michael Cohen on the witness stand.
    Michael Cohen testifies at former President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial in Manhattan on Monday in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

    Since the trial is not being televised and news photographers are only permitted 45 seconds to take still photos prior to the start of each day, the only images from inside the courtroom during Michael Cohen's testimony are portraits by sketch artists.

    This one, by noted sketch artist Jane Rosenberg, shows Cohen on the witness stand being questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger while Trump sits with his eyes closed and Judge Juan Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg look on.

    Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger before Judge Juan Merchan as Trump and Alvin Bragg look on.
    Jane Rosenberg/Reuters
    In a courtroom sketch, Judge Juan Merchan watches as Michael Cohen testifies.
    Jane Rosenberg/Reuters
    In a courtroom sketch, Trump sits with his eyes closed and Bragg watches as Cohen testifies.
    Jane Rosenberg/Reuters
  • Cohen says he was in London when he learned about the 'Access Hollywood' tape

    Cohen testified that he was in London in 2016 for his wedding anniversary and his daughter's birthday when he became aware of the "Access Hollywood" tape involving Donald Trump and Billy Bush.

    "I received a phone call from Hope Hicks," Cohen said. (Hicks served as press secretary during Trump's 2016 campaign.)

    Cohen also said he spoke to Trump privately that day about how to handle the fallout from the tape.

    "We needed to put a spin on this," Cohen said Trump told him. "The spin he wanted put on it was that this is locker room talk."

  • Cohen says he never altered audio recording of call with Trump

    Cohen responded "no" when asked by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger if he ever altered the 2016 call with Trump, according to reporters in the room.

    Cohen said that the call ended abruptly, cutting off his own voice in the recording because he "didn't want to record more" and had to answer an "important" call from a branch manager at Capital One bank, NBC reported.

    During that time, Trump had a checking account at the bank.

  • Merchan tells jury that the recording itself is the evidence

    Judge Juan Merchan told the jury that the recorded call between Trump and Cohen discussing the McDougal deal on Sept. 6, 2016, was presented as evidence.

    "The evidence in the case is the tape itself," Merchan explained, according to CNN. "The transcript is an aid."

  • Court is back in session

    Judge Juan Merchan is back on the bench, and Michael Cohen's testimony resumes after a midmorning break.

  • Court is taking a break

    Judge Juan Merchan called for a midmorning recess. When court resumes, Michael Cohen will continue his testimony.

  • Jury hears recording of conversation between Cohen and Trump

    With Cohen on the witness stand, the recording of a Sept. 6, 2016, conversation between Cohen and Trump about the McDougal deal was played in court. Cohen testified that Trump was unaware that their conversation was being recorded.

    Cohen said that he made the recording so that he could play it for David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher, so that he knew Trump "is going to be paying him back."

    "I also wanted him to remain loyal to Mr. Trump," Cohen added.

  • Trump said he would 'take care' of cost to control McDougal story, Cohen testifies

    Cohen said he informed Trump that it would cost $150,000 to "control the story" of Karen McDougal's alleged affair with Trump, per reporters in courtroom.

    "No problem, I’ll take care of it," Trump responded, according to Cohen's testimony.

    Cohen said that it was understood that AMI would front the funds and that Trump would pay them back. Cohen added that the details of how he would pay them back were not yet determined.

  • Cohen's texts to AMI shown in court

    While Cohen was testifying, prosecutors showed the jury text messages between him and Dylan Howard, the former editor in chief of the National Enquirer, in 2016 during their negotiations with model Karen McDougal to buy the story of her alleged extramarital affair with Trump.

    Cohen was concerned that McDougal was going to tell her story to ABC.

    “I’ve got this locked down for you,” Howard told Cohen in one of the texts shown in court. “I won’t let it out of my grasp.”

    📸 Big picture: McDougal ultimately did enter into an agreement with American Media, or AMI, the National Enquirer's parent company, which paid her $150,000 for the rights to her story. AMI never published it.

  • Cohen says he told AMI McDougal allegations would have 'significant' impact on Trump's 2016 campaign

    Cohen recalled receiving a call in June 2016 from either David Pecker or the National Enquirer's then editor in chief, Dylan Howard, about former Playboy model Karen McDougal's story of her alleged affair with Trump.

    Cohen said he told AMI the story would have a "significant" impact on Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, according to NBC.

    That day, Cohen said, he texted Trump's bodyguard asking to speak to "the boss" about McDougal's allegations, per reporters in the courtroom.

    Cohen said he asked Trump if he knew McDougal, and that Trump replied: "She's really beautiful."

    He said Trump then tasked Cohen with making sure the story of their alleged affair was not published.

  • J.D. Vance, a possible Trump VP pick, is in court today

    J.D. Vance, center, takes a photo with his cellphone as Donald Trump, blurred upfront, speaks to reporters at Manhattan criminal court.
    GOP Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio takes a photo as Trump speaks to reporters at Manhattan criminal court on Monday. (Mark Peterson/New York Magazine/Pool via AP)

    Trump arrived at his criminal trial Monday with a larger-than-usual entourage that included Eric Trump and Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio.

    Vance, who is viewed as a possible running mate for Trump, was seen standing behind the former president as he spoke to reporters before entering the courtroom.

  • Cohen says he created a website for Trump in 2011:

    Michael Cohen testified that in 2011, when Trump was considering running for president, he created a website for him — — to gauge interest in his candidacy.

    The site no longer exists, but with the help of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, this is what the page said at that time:

    Should Donald Trump Run For President?

    Are you one of the many frustrated Americans sick and tired of hearing the same old mundane political campaign promises? Empty promises echo across the nation every four years; stringing us along as we wait for something good to finally happen. Well it is finally here, and it is real. It is DONALD J. TRUMP. We need to convince Donald Trump to run for President in 2012 and end all of the old rhetoric occurring in Washington. This campaign will sweep a nation ready for “real” change and improve the lives of each and every American citizen. Trump has the knowledge, the resources, the power and the experience needed to re-shape our ailing nation; restoring our hope. Under his guidance, The United States of America will once again be the land of opportunity, prosperity and strength!

    Join me in creating a grass roots movement designed to save the greatest democracy in the world. Our country is heading down a dangerous path. I ask you to help me urge Donald Trump to throw his hat into the political ring. Our elected officials are mortgaging away our future by spending money that we do not have and in the process, creating unsustainable deficits. We need to stop the bleeding now and Donald Trump will help to heal our economic wounds. We cannot afford to allow foreign countries to take advantage of us, improve their economies and leave our citizens without jobs. Donald Trump will even out the playing field and develop a legitimate plan to reign in our massive trade deficits.

    Vote Now And Join The Movement!

  • Cohen testifies about plot with Pecker to suppress negative stories about Trump

    Under direct questioning, Michael Cohen confirmed previous testimony from former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker that he, Trump and Pecker entered into an agreement to suppress negative stories about Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    📸 Big picture: The plot to squash negative stories about Trump is what preceded the hush money deal at the center of the prosecution's criminal case against him.

  • Cohen describes relationship with AMI's David Pecker

    According to NBC, Cohen testified that he knew David Pecker, the former president and CEO of American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, before he knew Trump.

    "We had mutual friends, and we had met at a function out in Long Island many, many years ago," he said. "I then was reacquainted when David Pecker was the president and CEO of AMI, and more people know him for his magazines and newspapers.”

    Cohen added that he had Pecker's cellphone and work phone numbers saved in his contact list.

    But Cohen told prosecutor Susan Hoffinger that before Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign, he was unaware of AMI's "catch-and-kill" practice, in which the company paid for certain damaging stories with the intention of burying them.

  • Cohen says it's 'fair' to call him Trump's 'fixer'

    Under direct questioning from prosecutor Susan Hoffinger, Cohen was asked whether it was fair to describe him as having been Trump's "fixer."

    "Yes, some have described me as that," Cohen replied.

    Cohen testified that, in that role, he would sometimes "bully" people for Trump and occasionally lie for him.

  • Cohen describes how he dealt with press while working for Trump

    Former President Donald Trump waits for the start of proceedings in his hush money trial at Manhattan criminal court on Monday.
    Former President Donald Trump waits for the start of proceedings in his hush money trial at Manhattan criminal court on Monday. (Spencer Platt/Pool via AP)

    Cohen said that part of his job was dealing with the press. This meant pushing positive stories about Donald Trump or responding to ones his boss didn't like.

    "If there was an article that caused him displeasure I would speak to them about them as well,” Cohen said, according to CNN.

  • Cohen: 'Mr. Trump never had an email address'

    Cohen testified that he communicated with Trump over the phone or in person, following his "open-door policy," according to CNN.

    Cohen said that Trump compared emails to "written papers."

    "He knows too many people who have gone down as a direct result of having emails that prosecutors can use in a case," Cohen says Trump told him.

  • Cohen reveals starting salary as Trump's 'special counsel'

    Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President elect Donald Trump.
    Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump, Dec. 16, 2016. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images)

    Cohen testified that in 2007 he was offered a job by Trump at the Trump Organization as "special counsel." He said his starting base salary with Trump was $375,000, but with a bonus, he made $525,000, according to reporters in the courtroom.

    Asked about his duties at the Trump Organization, Cohen reportedly said, “It was whatever he wanted.”

  • Cohen identifies Trump in court

    Near the start of his testimony, Michael Cohen was asked by prosecutors to identify Donald Trump, who was seated at the defense table.

    Cohen stood up, leaned to his right and described his former boss seated in court as wearing a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie.

    Trump gave no visible reaction, per reporters in the room.

  • What Trump said when he arrived at the courthouse

    Former President Donald Trump speaks Trump speaks to reporters after arriving at Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Monday.
    Trump speaks to reporters after arriving at Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Monday. (Seth Wenig/Pool via AP)

    Speaking to reporters after arriving at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse Monday, former President Donald Trump boasted about his poll numbers, complained that the media didn't show the true size of the crowd at his weekend campaign rally, and railed against the case against him as he has done throughout the trial. He did not, however, mention Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and so-called fixer, who is expected to testify against him today.

    "It's a disgrace to the country," Trump said as his son Eric Trump and GOP Sens. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and J.D. Vance of Ohio stood behind him. "I should be out campaigning now instead of sitting in a very cold courthouse all day long."

    Trump is subject to a gag order that prevents him from discussing witnesses like Cohen. He's been found in violation of that order 10 times, and Judge Juan Merchan has warned him that any further violations could result in jail time.

  • Michael Cohen takes the stand

    Donald Trump's hush money trial resumed Monday with the prosecution calling Michael Cohen to testify.

    Per reporters in the room, Trump did not look at Cohen as he took the stand.

  • Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg in court today

    Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is making a rare appearance in court Monday as Michael Cohen, a key witness in the district attorney's case against former President Donald Trump, is set to take the stand.

  • Who is Michael Cohen and why is he the prosecution's 'star witness'?

    Michael Cohen leaves the district attorneys office in New York.
    Michael Cohen leaves the district attorney's office in New York, March 13, 2023. (Yuki Iwamura/AP)

    Michael Cohen, once a fierce ally to former President Donald Trump, is expected to testify at Trump’s hush money trial on Monday. Billed as a “star witness” for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Cohen’s name has come up repeatedly since witness testimony in the trial began on April 22.

    Here’s what you need to know ahead of his highly anticipated testimony.

    ❓What was his relationship to Trump?

    Cohen worked for the Trump Organization for more than a decade as Trump’s attorney, starting in 2006. During that time, he became known as Trump’s “fixer” due to his role in covering up Trump’s problems.

    Cohen was first introduced to Trump in 2006 by Donald Trump Jr. After consulting with the real estate mogul on a few legal matters, Cohen quickly became executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump. As he explained to Vanity Fair in 2017, he was so devoted to Trump at the time that he said he “would take a bullet” for him.

    💸 What’s Cohen’s role in the hush money trial?

    Cohen said that shortly before the 2016 presidential election, he made a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels as she was shopping her story to major media outlets about an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006. He said the payment was intended to silence Daniels and prevent her from speaking to the media and compromising Trump’s presidential future.

    According to Cohen, Trump reimbursed him for the payment after he became president through a shell company that Cohen had opened for that sole purpose. Prosecutors claim that Trump falsified the paperwork of those payments by masking them as legal services. The paper trail of those payments make up the 34 alleged falsified records that Trump is charged with.

  • What to expect in court today

    Michael Cohen stepping out of a car outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Monday.
    Michael Cohen arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Monday. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
    • Former President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial resumes in Manhattan at 9:30 a.m. ET.

    • Michael Cohen, Trump's lawyer and former “fixer,” is expected to be called to testify against his former boss.

    • Cohen, who has already arrived at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, is expected to be on the witness stand for multiple days.

    • Prosecutors say they could finish presenting their case this week.